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Facebook sees 33% lift in ad revenue and pledges huge investment in ‘metaverse’ vision

Facebook’s advertising revenue climbed 33% in the three months to the end of September in a sign that the social behemoth’s influence shows no sign of slowing.

Ad revenue hit US$28.3 billion in the quarter, with profits rising 17% to US$9.2 billion. Overall revenue leapt 35% compared to the same period last year.

The performances comes as Facebook continues to face growing pressure after a whistleblower claimed it puts profits above the well being of users and that it was aware about the aggressive spread of misinformation and hate speech on its platform.

Despite the widespread negative publicity, chief executive Mark Zuckerberg was upbeat about the company’s performance and its ongoing investment in the metaverse – a digital world designed to merge with elements of the offline world, including virtual reality headsets and augmented reality.

“We made good progress this quarter and our community continues to grow,” said chief executive Zuckerberg. “I’m excited about our roadmap, especially around creators, commerce, and helping to build the metaverse.”

The company confirmed it is dedicating “significant resources” towards its augmented and virtual reality products and services “which are an important part of our work to develop the next generation of online social experiences”.

Chief financial officer David Wehner said it will break out Facebook Reality Labs, or FRL, as a separate reporting segment, starting from the fourth quarter.

“The new segment disclosures will provide additional information on the performance of FRL and the investments we are making,” he said.

Wehner said investment in Facebook Reality Labs will reduce its overall operating profit in 2021 by approximately US$10 billion.

“We are committed to bringing this long-term vision to life and we expect to increase our investments for the next several years,” he added.

The strong results will offer some respite for Facebook after weeks of negative headlines triggered by documents released by a former employee who accused the company of neglecting the safety of its users.

Zuckerberg struck a defiant tone on an investor call yesterday, describing the attacks as a “coordinated effort to selectively use leaked documents to create a false picture about our company”.

Last week it was reported that Facebook Inc was looking to rebrand.

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